This week for class our assignment was to watch either the video The Sextortion of Amanda Todd or Sext Up Kids. I watched both, and being a parent watching these videos was really hard and terrified me for the generation my boys will be growing up in.I am grateful that I had parents that were really strict with my time on the internet and were constantly watching over my shoulder. When I turned 16 and got my first cell phone there were specific rules that were to be adhered to. 1) My parents had access to my phone at any time and were able to read my messages and 2) My phone was to be turned in each evening at bedtime. I remember thinking that they were being too over protective and that it was an invasion of my privacy and how “unfair” it was that I had to turn my phone in each night, but now that I am older and I see how technology has evolved, and the amount of people who use the internet and technology inappropriately, I’m grateful that they were as “over protective” as they were.
Watching these videos really opened up my eyes to the importance of teaching our kids (my own and my future students) not only how to use technology safely and appropriately, but what to do if they come across something they shouldn’t or if they get themselves into a situation that they don’t know how to handle, who they can go to and what to do about it. I think it’s important to teach kids that everything they post online, whether positive or negative, will follow them for the rest of their lives.
In the video Sext Up Kids, one of the girls expresses the importance of having an open line of communication to talk about “uncomfortable things”, and I agree that this is important. It is our job as parents and educators to provide our students with a safe environment to talk about these uncomfortable things without feeling shame, judgement or guilt and to offer them guidance and support. Even though I grew up with parents that made sure I was aware of internet safety and was using it properly, I didn’t have that open line of communication with them. I didn’t feel like I could talk to them about certain things and had I have encountered something on the internet I shouldn’t have or gotten myself into trouble I definitely wouldn’t have felt safe approaching them about it, nor would I have felt safe approaching my educators, as I attended a christian school and we never discussed uncomfortable subjects.
In the video The Sextortion of Amanda Todd, we learnt more to the story then what the media put out there. I never realized the extent of bullying she went through and the way she was being extorted. It opened my eyes to a whole new world, one that I had been previously sheltered from, the world of sextorition, cappers and just how brutal cyber bullying actually is.
I think that showing these kinds of videos and using other real examples would be useful in helping kids understand how what they say/ do can impact them, not as a scare tactic or to shock them, but because these kids are the same age as them. If I were to just tell them why it’s wrong or how it can affect them, they may feel like I’m doing or saying it to be mean. We all know that when you tell a child not to do something, it creates the urge for them to rebel even more.
The subject of digital citizenship is a new concept to me, but I found a blog post called What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship and I think the author makes some really great points. Learning about digital citizenship has made me start thinking more about what I post and how it can be perceived especially as a professional.